Rick Wheeler Scores For Our National Parks
“Variety is the spice of life,” says Rick Wheeler, whose wanderings in both location and media confirm the platitude. Well known for his work with scratchboard, a drawing technique involving scoring the surface of a pre-inked board with an X-acto knife, Wheeler also enjoys working in other media including watercolor, acrylic and oil, his body of work testimony that he is equally at home in them all.
Wheeler received an extensive art education in the San Francisco Bay area, at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he was awarded a scholarship to attend, and the San Francisco Academy of Art University. He holds a bachelors degree in fine art from Prescott College.
The artist discovered the diverse and enchanting land forms, flora, fauna and cultural history of the southwest while vacationing in the area in 1979. A quick trip to Moab inspired him to return in 1994, where he lived for six years and where he met his wife, Cherie. While spending time as a volunteer ranger in Arches National Park, Wheeler befriended a park ranger who opened the door to an ongoing artist-client relationship with the National Park Service. His work for such parks as Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, Arches, and Sequoia can be found in books, signage, logos, and in several park visitor centers. Wheeler recently completed a project for Joshua Tree National Park, illustrating signs for a new trail. For the fifth consecutive year, he will be participating in the annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art and is a signature member of the Artists for Conservation.
These days, in addition to NPS commissions and a steady stream of other work in a variety of media, Wheeler enjoys teaching and mentoring others. He has taught drawing and painting for the last eight years at the Art Institute wing of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and at the Prescott College campus in Tucson, as well as in the village of Tubac. And you can always look him up along the rim at Grand Canyon National Park. It is his home away from home.